How Do Symptoms Progress And What Is The Outlook
The symptoms of PD tend to become gradually worse over time. However, the speed of progression varies greatly from person to person. When symptoms first begin, you may not need treatment when symptoms are relatively mild.
Most people with PD can expect to have some time of relatively mild symptoms. Then, when the symptoms become worse, they can expect several years of good or reasonable control of the symptoms with medication. But everyone is different and it is difficult to predict for an individual how quickly the disease will progress. Some people may only be slightly disabled 20 years after PD first begins, whereas others may be very disabled after 10 years.
Research into PD is active. For example, one main aim of research is to find medicines that prevent the damage to the affected cells, rather than just treating the symptoms, which is the main value of treatment at present. Further research on these chemicals continues. Research is underway using stem cell therapy to help treat PD. Other researchers are looking at alpha synuclein, a protein that gathers around the junction between nerve cells and is thought to affect the way messages are conducted between the brain and the nerves controlling movement.
Further reading and references
Stage One Of Parkinsons Disease
In stage one, the earliest stage, the symptoms of PD are mild and only seen on one side of the body , and there is usually minimal or no functional impairment.
The symptoms of PD at stage one may be so mild that the person doesnt seek medical attention or the physician is unable to make a diagnosis. Symptoms at stage one may include tremor, such as intermittent tremor of one hand, rigidity, or one hand or leg may feel more clumsy than another, or one side of the face may be affected, impacting the expression.
This stage is very difficult to diagnose and a physician may wait to see if the symptoms get worse over time before making a formal diagnosis.
Stages Of Parkinsons Disease
Neurologists usually describe the progression of Parkinsons symptoms in stages, using the system known as the Hoehn and Yahr scale. These stages are:
- Stage I Symptoms are seen on one side of the body only.
- Stage II Symptoms are seen on both sides of the body. Theres no impairment of balance.
- Stage III Balance impairment has begun. In this mild- to moderate stage of the disease, the person is still physically independent.
- Stage IV This stage is marked by severe disability, but the person is still able to walk or stand unassisted.
- Stage V The person is wheelchair-bound or bedridden unless assisted.
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Signs Of Parkinsons Disease
In 1817, Dr. James Parkinson published An Essay on the Shaking Palsy describing non-motor, as well as, motor symptoms of the illness that bears his name. Parkinsons is not just a movement disorder, explained Dr. Shprecher. Constipation, impaired sense of smell, and dream enactment can occur years before motor symptoms of Parkinsons. The latter, caused by a condition called REM sleep behavior disorder, is a very strong risk factor for both Parkinsons and dementia . This has prompted us to join a consortium of centers studying REM sleep behavior disorder.
What Doctors Look For When Diagnosing Parkinsons
Certain physical signs and symptoms noticed by the patient or his or her loved ones are usually what prompt a person to see the doctor. These are the symptoms most often noticed by patients or their families:
Shaking or tremor: Called resting tremor, a trembling of a hand or foot that happens when the patient is at rest and typically stops when he or she is active or moving
Bradykinesia: Slowness of movement in the limbs, face, walking or overall body
Rigidity: Stiffness in the arms, legs or trunk
Posture instability: Trouble with balance and possible falls
Once the patient is at the doctors office, the physician:
Takes a medical history and does a physical examination.
Asks about current and past medications. Some medications may cause symptoms that mimic Parkinsons disease.
Performs a neurological examination, testing agility, muscle tone, gait and balance.
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Living With Parkinsons Disease
Depending on severity, life can look very different for a person coping with Parkinsons Disease. As a loved one, your top priority will be their comfort, peace of mind and safety. Dr. Shprecher offered some advice, regardless of the diseases progression. Besides movement issues Parkinsons Disease can cause a wide variety of symptoms including drooling, constipation, low blood pressure when standing up, voice problems, depression, anxiety, sleep problems, hallucinations and dementia. Therefore, regular visits with a neurologist experienced with Parkinsons are important to make sure the diagnosis is on target, and the symptoms are monitored and addressed. Because changes in your other medications can affect your Parkinsons symptoms, you should remind each member of your healthcare team to send a copy of your clinic note after every appointment.
Dr. Shprecher also added that maintaining a healthy diet and getting regular exercise can help improve quality of life. Physical and speech therapists are welcome additions to any caregiving team.
Research And Statistics: Who Has Parkinsons Disease
According to the Parkinsons Foundation, nearly 1 million people in the United States are living with the disease. More than 10 million people worldwide have Parkinsons.
About 4 percent of people with Parkinsons are diagnosed before age 50.
Men are 1.5 times more likely to develop the disease than women.
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How Do I Prevent Falls From Common Hazards
- Floors: Remove all loose wires, cords, and throw rugs. Minimize clutter. Make sure rugs are anchored and smooth. Keep furniture in its usual place.
- Bathroom: Install grab bars and non-skid tape in the tub or shower. Use non-skid bath mats on the floor or install wall-to-wall carpeting.
- Lighting: Make sure halls, stairways, and entrances are well-lit. Install a night light in your bathroom or hallway and staircase. Turn lights on if you get up in the middle of the night. Make sure lamps or light switches are within reach of the bed if you have to get up during the night.
- Kitchen: Install non-skid rubber mats near the sink and stove. Clean spills immediately.
- Stairs: Make sure treads, rails, and rugs are secure. Install a rail on both sides of the stairs. If stairs are a threat, it might be helpful to arrange most of your activities on the lower level to reduce the number of times you must climb the stairs.
- Entrances and doorways: Install metal handles on the walls adjacent to the doorknobs of all doors to make it more secure as you travel through the doorway.
New Diagnostic Standards For Parkinsons
Until recently, the gold-standard checklist for diagnosis came from the U.K.s Parkinsons Disease Society Brain Bank. It was a checklist that doctors followed to determine if the symptoms they saw fit the disease. But thats now considered outdated. Recently, new criteria from the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society have come into use. This list reflects the most current understanding of the condition. It allows doctors to reach a more accurate diagnosis so patients can begin treatment at earlier stages.
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How Is Parkinson’s Disease Diagnosed
There is no test that can prove that you have PD. The diagnosis is based on you having the typical symptoms . In the early stage of the disease, when symptoms are mild, it may be difficult for a doctor to say if you definitely have PD. As the symptoms gradually become worse, the diagnosis often becomes more clear.
PD is sometimes confused with other conditions. Some conditions can give ‘Parkinsonism’ features – that is, symptoms similar to PD but caused by other conditions. For example, some medicines used to treat other conditions can cause side-effects which resemble symptoms of PD. Some rare brain disorders can also cause similar symptoms.
Therefore, it is normal practice in the UK to be referred to a specialist if PD is suspected. The specialist will be used to diagnosing PD and ruling out other causes of the symptoms. They will usually be either a neurologist or a doctor specialising in elderly care. If there is still doubt about the diagnosis, sometimes a scan of the brain is carried out. This helps to differentiate PD from some other conditions that can cause Parkinsonism features. Other tests sometimes needed include blood tests and tests of your sense of smell.
Causes And Risk Factors Of Parkinsons Disease
Most cases of Parkinsons disease are idiopathic, meaning the cause is unclear.
Its widely believed that a person with Parkinsons may have been genetically vulnerable to the disease, and that one or more unknown factors in the environment eventually triggered the disease.
Normally, the neurons in this part of the brain make the chemical messenger dopamine, which allows communication with another area of the brain, the corpus striatum.
This communication helps produce smooth, purposeful movement. When the neurons in the substantia nigra die, the resulting loss of communication leads to the motor symptoms of Parkinsons.
Although the cause of this cell death is unknown, many researchers believe that the cells are killed by clumped proteins called Lewy bodies.
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Early Detection Is Important
Some people never share with their doctor a subtle symptom, such as a periodic involuntary jerk of a finger, because it doesnt cross their minds as something worrisome.But Dr. Joseph advises not to wait until symptoms progress to get checked out. That finger jerk could progress into a full-blown tremor.Dr. Joseph, who was inspired to treat patients with Parkinsons when she saw a deep brain stimulation procedure stop a patients tremor in medical school, wants you to know that its normal to feel scared about having symptoms evaluated for a possible Parkinsons diagnosis.But she encourages you to be brave and get an exam for this important reason: People who start Parkinsons treatment earlier have less disability and longer lifespans!
Can Parkinsons Disease Be Prevented
Unfortunately, no. Parkinsons disease is long-term disease that worsens over time. Although there is no way to prevent or cure the disease , medications may significantly relieve your symptoms. In some patients especially those with later-stage disease, surgery to improve symptoms may be an option.
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What Is The Prognosis And Life Expectancy For Parkinson’s Disease
The severity of Parkinson’s disease symptoms and signs vary greatly from person to peson, and it is not possible to predict how quickly the disease will progress. Parkinson’s disease itself is not a fatal disease, and the average life expectancy is similar to that of people without the disease. Secondary complications, such as pneumonia, falling-related injuries, and choking can lead to death. Many treatment options can reduce some of the symptoms and prolong the quality of life.
What Is The Outlook For Persons With Parkinsons Disease
Although there is no cure or absolute evidence of ways to prevent Parkinsons disease, scientists are working hard to learn more about the disease and find innovative ways to better manage it, prevent it from progressing and ultimately curing it.
Currently, you and your healthcare teams efforts are focused on medical management of your symptoms along with general health and lifestyle improvement recommendations . By identifying individual symptoms and adjusting the course of action based on changes in symptoms, most people with Parkinsons disease can live fulfilling lives.
The future is hopeful. Some of the research underway includes:
- Using stem cells to produce new neurons, which would produce dopamine.
- Producing a dopamine-producing enzyme that is delivered to a gene in the brain that controls movement.
- Using a naturally occurring human protein glial cell-line derived neurotrophic factor, GDNF to protect dopamine-releasing nerve cells.
Many other investigations are underway too. Much has been learned, much progress has been made and additional discoveries are likely to come.
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Testing For Parkinsons Disease
There is no lab or imaging test that is recommended or definitive for Parkinsons disease. However, in 2011, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration approved an imaging scan called the DaTscan. This technique allows doctors to see detailed pictures of the brains dopamine system.
A DaTscan involves an injection of a small amount of a radioactive drug and a machine called a single-photon emission computed tomography scanner, similar to an MRI.
The drug binds to dopamine transmitters in the brain, showing where in the brain dopaminergic neurons are.
The results of a DaTscan cant show that you have Parkinsons, but they can help your doctor confirm a diagnosis or rule out a Parkinsons mimic.
The 5 Stages Of Parkinsons Disease
Getting older is underrated by most. Its a joyful experience to sit back, relax and watch the people in your life grow up, have kids of their own and flourish. Age can be a beautiful thing, even as our bodies begin to slow down. We spoke with David Shprecher, DO, movement disorders director at Banner Sun Health Research Institute about a well-known illness which afflicts as many as 2% of people older than 65, Parkinsons Disease.
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What Causes Parkinsons Disease
Parkinsons disease occurs when nerve cells in an area of the brain called the substantia nigra become impaired or die. These cells normally produce dopamine, a chemical that helps the cells of the brain communicate . When these nerve cells become impaired or die, they produce less dopamine. Dopamine is especially important for the operation of another area of the brain called the basal ganglia. This area of the brain is responsible for organizing the brains commands for body movement. The loss of dopamine causes the movement symptoms seen in people with Parkinsons disease.
People with Parkinsons disease also lose another neurotransmitter called norepinephrine. This chemical is needed for proper functioning of the sympathetic nervous system. This system controls some of the bodys autonomic functions such as digestion, heart rate, blood pressure and breathing. Loss of norepinephrine causes some of the non-movement-related symptoms of Parkinsons disease.
Scientists arent sure what causes the neurons that produce these neurotransmitter chemicals to die.
What Are Lewy Bodies
The affected neurons of people with Parkinsons disease have been found to contain clumped proteins called Lewy bodies, but researchers arent yet sure why Lewy bodies form or what role they play in the disease.
Lewy bodies are clumps of a protein called alpha-synuclein . Neurons cant break down these protein clumps, which may lead to the death of these cells.
Some other theories about what causes the death of brain cells in people with Parkinsons disease include free radical damage, inflammation, or toxins.
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Is Parkinsons Disease Inherited
Scientists have discovered gene mutations that are associated with Parkinsons disease.
There is some belief that some cases of early-onset Parkinsons disease disease starting before age 50 may be inherited. Scientists identified a gene mutation in people with Parkinsons disease whose brains contain Lewy bodies, which are clumps of the protein alpha-synuclein. Scientists are trying to understand the function of this protein and its relationship to genetic mutations that are sometimes seen in Parkinsons disease and in people with a type of dementia called Lewy body dementia.
Several other gene mutations have been found to play a role in Parkinsons disease. Mutations in these genes cause abnormal cell functioning, which affects the nerve cells ability to release dopamine and causes nerve cell death. Researchers are still trying to discover what causes these genes to mutate in order to understand how gene mutations influence the development of Parkinsons disease.
Scientists think that about 10% to 15% of persons with Parkinsons disease may have a genetic mutation that predisposes them to development of the disease. There are also environmental factors involved that are not fully understood.
Stage Two Of Parkinsons Disease
Stage two is still considered early disease in PD, and it is characterized by symptoms on both sides of the body or at the midline without impairment to balance. Stage two may develop months or years after stage one.
Symptoms of PD in stage two may include the loss of facial expression on both sides of the face, decreased blinking, speech abnormalities, soft voice, monotone voice, fading volume after starting to speak loudly, slurring speech, stiffness or rigidity of the muscles in the trunk that may result in neck or back pain, stooped posture, and general slowness in all activities of daily living. However, at this stage the individual is still able to perform tasks of daily living.
Diagnosis may be easy at this stage if the patient has a tremor however, if stage one was missed and the only symptoms of stage two are slowness or lack of spontaneous movement, PD could be misinterpreted as only advancing age.
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How Is Parkinsons Disease Treated
There is no cure for Parkinsons disease. However, medications and other treatments can help relieve some of your symptoms. Exercise can help your Parkinsons symptoms significantly. In addition, physical therapy, occupational therapy and speech-language therapy can help with walking and balance problems, eating and swallowing challenges and speech problems. Surgery is an option for some patients.
What Are The Treatments For Parkinson’s Disease
There is no cure for PD, and no treatment prevents the disease from progressing. However, treatments can usually ease symptoms.
- At first, you may not need any treatment when the symptoms are mild. A specialist may simply see you every now and then to monitor how the disease is progressing.
- A medicine that eases symptoms is usually started when symptoms become troublesome.
- Therapies such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy may also be useful as the disease progresses.
- Surgery may be an option for severe cases.
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